Former Pistons predicting a successful season for new look Motor City squad
Detroit's offseason moves have been met with mixed reactions around the League, with many pundits not sure what to make of the revamped roster put together by Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower. The Pistons added Ersan Ilyasova prior to the draft, drafted Stanley Johnson and Darrun Hilliard before agreeing to terms with former Spur Aron Baynes and re-signing Reggie Jackson and Joel Anthony. The team then pulled the trigger on two trades that resulted in Motown bringing in Marcus Morris, Danny Granger, Reggie Bullock and Steve Blake at a very low price. While most fans have been very optimistic after the team's summer performance, the national media hasn't been drinking the Pistons' brand of kool-aid, with ESPN predicting a disappointing 11th place finish in the East, and choosing not to televise a single Pistons game during the regular season.
Not everyone is letting the lack of League-wide hype bring them down, though, with two former Pistons and a Michigan legend expecting to see the team put Motown back on the map. The Detroit Free Press' Tom Lang reports in three separate pieces Mateen Cleaves, Dave Bing and Jalen Rose are all looking forward to a great season and, with the team's mix of youth and talent along with Stan Van Gundy's coaching, like the Pistons' chances to make the team relevant once again.
"I think they're going to be good," Cleaves said of Detroit. "I will be surprised if they didn't make the playoffs, for sure. The moves they made over the summer were good. I love the draft pick, (Stanley) Johnson. I think he's going to be really good, because of his competitive nature. I have watched him a lot covering college basketball. He competes, and he wants to win. He wants to be great, and that's one thing I like about him."
"Outside of Cleveland, there's not another dominant team," Bing said Monday at the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy golf outing at Detroit Golf Club. "I think with this coach, who's a lifer, he knows the game. He knows how he wants to play the game, and he's making sure he gets players with the skill set that he wants them to have. He has the big guy (Andre Drummond), he has the kid from Milwaukee (6-foot-9 Ersan Ilyasova). But they're going to miss (Greg) Monroe, because he was steady, he was a rock. But it was tough to see those two guys, who are basically centers, on the court at the same time."
"As far as this year's team, I think this is Andre Drummond's coming out party," Rose said. "I'm expecting Reggie Jackson and Brandon Jennings to be exciting together as a one-two punch. KCP (Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) is the most underrated young player in the league. He hustles, he plays defense, he knocks down the three. He's a really good athlete."
The Pistons are expected to make a serious run for the playoffs this year, and there is a case to be made that they could compete for the 5 or 6 seed in the East should all the pieces click together in the way Van Gundy has imagined. As the season nears, teams should start taking notice of the new and improved Pistons, or risk getting run out of the gym by a squad carefully put together to complement each other's game.
Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson named on Sports Illustrated's NBA Top 100
The yearly Sports Illustrated NBA Top 100 has come to a close, with SI naming LeBron James as the League's best player, with last year's MVP, Stephen Curry, listed as fourth. Detroit has seen two of its players named on the list, with Reggie Jackson coming in at a rather unceremonious 94th overall, and Andre Drummond grabbing the 35th spot. Brandon Jennings was listed as "snubbed" player, although a case could be made that new Piston acquisitions Marcus Morris and Ersan Ilyasova were also deserving of a spot.
Jackson is still considered an enigma in many circles, with multiple questions still being asked about the size of the contract Stan Van Gundy offered the point-guard during the offseason. The former Oklahoma City guard still has some detractors despite putting up some serious numbers during his 27 games as a Piston, and he would certainly silence many of them should he reproduce those averages over the course of the entire season. Drummond, who was listed 37th last year, jumped two spots ahead and figures to keep moving up the rankings if he has the breakout season many around the Association think he'll have. This isn't the first time the pick-and-roll duo have graced an NBA-related list, with ESPN ranking them 4th and 6th respectively on their "Likeliest first time NBA All-Star" list earlier in the week.
Some of the more interesting rankings included the Raptors' Jonas Valanciunas listed at number 77, embattled Phoenix forward Markieff Morris claiming the 64th position and Jazz rookie Rudy Gobert making his debut at 39. There were a bevvy of former Pistons on the list, including Josh Smith (96), Brandon Knight (79), Greg Monroe (48) and Khris Middleton (45).
Pistons enjoy team-building experience at UFC facilities
After hosting some UFC fighters in Detroit, the team flew to Las Vegas to partake in a little team bonding prior to the season, which everyone seems to have enjoyed according to The Detroit News' Terry Foster. The entire team seems to be there with the exception of Jodie Meeks, Danny Granger and Steve Blake. Roster hopefuls Reggie Bullock and Adonis Thomas were present, so take that as you will. The sessions seem to have brought the team together and if the trainers are to be believed, Darko Milicic could soon have some competition! (H/T Terry Foster for the video)
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